Washington, DC (WIBX) - The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is urging people to protect themselves from food borne illness this summer.

In preparation for the big July 4th holiday, the group has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to introduce informational products and spread the word about safe food handling.

Officials with the FSIS recommend anyone working with food to follow four steps while cooking - clean, separate, cook and chill - to eliminate contaminants.

The group suggests that all surfaces be clean and hands washed before prepping food. When prepping, separate raw items from vegetables and cooked food.

While cooking, FSIS says to use a food thermometer to make sure meat is at a safe temperature before serving. Cold foods should never sit out and should remain on ice to prevent bacteria growth.

More food safety tips can be found by visiting the USDA's "Grill It Safe" website, on Twitter (@USDAFoodSafety) or by speaking with "Ask Karen," the agency's virtual food safety representative.